Friday, May 9, 2014

'World-class'? It's true! (But in Columbia.)

When I hear "world-class," I usually wince. The South has no world-class cities (possibly excepting Atlanta, though I'd say not), and I always think of Henery the Chicken Hawk trying to prove he can take down Foghorn Leghorn, who's five times his size. But for once, the adjective fits. Unfortunately, it applies to something 90 miles away.


The University of South Carolina will hold its Southeastern Piano Festival in Columbia June 15-21. The honoree is 85-year-old Leon Fleisher, who launched his career 62 years ago by winning the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium and had an impressive run before injuring his right hand severely. (He regained use of it much later.) Here's what he sounded like four years ago, giving a master class and playing a sample of Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1:




Fleisher won't perform at USC. He'll give the Marian Stanley Tucker guest lecture June 19 and master classes during the week. But many young pianists will go to the keyboard.

Andrew Tyson won the 2011 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and a 2013 Avery Fisher Career Grant; he'll play June 17Ingrid Jacoby, winner of the Steinway Hall Artists Prize and Baldwin National Piano Competition, solos on June 18. Alexander Korsantia won the gold medal in the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition and will Rach the house on June 19. And the cheapest tickets are -- wait for it -- five dollars. (Fleisher's master classes are free!)

The Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition offers 20 young pianists a chance to play on Friday the 20th, and the top-rated ones will give a concert on the 21st. I wish this event were closer to home, but I can't imagine a more soul-satisfying road trip nearby in the last week of spring.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

World class? The south of the US is about as far from world class as is a "third world" country. It's like Uganda. The rich ruling class, and then everybody else. And the rest of America isn't far behind.

Anonymous said...

Atlanta is a dump. I wouldn't let my dog do his business there.

ironage said...

So.....why does this make Columbia "world class"? Some dude playing Bach? I play Bach all the time. So what.

bobba said...

I thought Gastonia and Rock Hill were world class?

Anonymous said...

I believe that Charleston can be considered "world class".

Anonymous said...

Bangkok is a "world class city"... wanna be like Bangkok?
Charlotte is known nationally for its identity insecurity. Someone once commented that if there were a nuclear attack and Charlotte wasn't struck in the first exchange, they'd be offended.
My free advice. Don't sweat it. Do what you do best.

Anonymous said...

What defines world class? SFO, NYC, Chicago, and LA, are all liberal dumps.

Anonymous said...

Well, most everyone already thinks we're a bunch of rubes in Charlotte, and with writers such as yourself putting us down whenever you get a chance, I don't much blame them.

Mark Caplan said...

Washington, DC, located 70 miles below the Mason-Dixon Line, is a world-class, Southern city.

Lawrence Toppman said...

Ummm...there's a vast distance between being "world-class" and being "a bunch of rubes," and Charlotte is in between (and closer to the top). And I don't buy the idea that the Mason-Dixon Line, drawn 250 years ago, defines "the South." Maryland was in the South, according to that designation.

Mark Caplan said...

But Maryland -- birthplace of Frederick Douglass -- was indeed in the South, and a slave state. Even central Pennsylvania has many characteristics one fondly attaches to the Southern way of life. Isn't one definition of Pennsylvania "a state with Philadelphia at one end, Pittsburgh at the other end, and Alabama in between"?

Lawrence Toppman said...

Actually, I believe New Jersey and Delaware did not legally outlaw slavery until the time of the Emancipation Proclamation, and they were above the Mason-Dixon line. But I'm not thinking about what the South was 160 years ago; I'm talking about today. Maryland ain't Southern, and I don't buy the idea that D.C. is a Southern city.